You can tour these Charlotte secret gardens — and get inspiration for your own yard.

·5 min read

Life as an uptown Charlottean: It’s gotta be fast-paced, fueled with caffeine by day, craft cocktails by night, (aside from COVID-19), right? Living close to the action must mean heading home only when it’s time to put your head on the pillow, waking up early because coffee is for closers, living on the edge of fast-paced, all the time.

Not so fast.

For some, uptown Charlotte residents, maybe. But for residents of Fourth Ward, there’s a secret way of life that even those in Charlotte’s suburbs with sprawling lawns might covet.

With quaint, older homes and elegant, cozy, manicured gardens to match, we’re starting to wonder if a literal green thumb is straight-up required to live in Fourth Ward. A yard the size of a postage stamp can be transformed into an oasis here. You can both hear the signs of traffic and other parts of city life and also feel the tranquility that comes with a meandering pea gravel walkway leading to a 30-foot-tall white crepe myrtle with a fountain in the foreground.

Luckily for us, several homeowners are offering up tours of their gardens at The Secret Gardens of Fourth Ward tour on May 22-23 from noon-4 p.m. The annual event was canceled last year (thanks, COVID), but it’s back on for 2021. Looking for some inspiration for your own garden? This is a great place to find it. Also, there will be food and drink samples along the way, both at the private homes and at Fourth Ward’s restaurants.

The neighbors invited CharlotteFive over for a sneak peek this week (we looked at everyone’s hands, didn’t see any green, for the record).

Here’s a glimpse at what you’ll get to see (and eat and drink):

(1) The Phillips Garden

315 W. 9th St.

What to look for:

  • The space itself: This Charleston-inspired oasis garden spans across two homes.

  • The basketball court and swimming pool.

  • The handmade copper lanterns, antique farm dining table for 10, retractable screens on the upper outdoor patio.

  • American boxwood, dwarf English boxwoods, Little Gem magnolias and camellias.

The professionals:

  • Wade Drye of Charleston

  • Tony Everett of Ion Outdoors

  • Designer Tracy Swygert of Charleston

Drink samples: Broken Shed Vodka and Southern Distilling

This Charleston-inspired oasis garden on 9th Street in Charlotte spans across two homes.
This Charleston-inspired oasis garden on 9th Street in Charlotte spans across two homes.

(2) The Rash Garden

610 N. Pine St.

What to look for:

  • Rather, here it’s what to listen for: The sound of the recycled-water fountain, contrasting with the city traffic rushing by, off in the distance somewhere.

  • Look for the White Crepe Myrtle, which was 8 feet tall when the homeowners planted it and now stands over 30 feet tall.

  • Lenton roses, lime green heucheras, azaleas and hydrangeas.

Drink samples: TBD

The Rash garden on Pine Street has a recycled-water fountain, pea gravel-lined-paths and a White Crepe Myrtle.
The Rash garden on Pine Street has a recycled-water fountain, pea gravel-lined-paths and a White Crepe Myrtle.

(3) 10th Street Townhomes Private Park

10th and Poplar streets

What to look for:

  • This private park belongs to the homeowners of its surrounding townhomes.

  • The movie screen where neighbors gathered for socially distanced outdoor evenings.

  • The fire pit with a love seat for cozy date nights.

  • The Southern Magnolia, lush green lawn and the evergreen buffer against Interstate 277.

Famous for:

Drink samples: Great Wagon Road Distillery

This private park in Fourth Ward belongs to the homeowners of the 10th Street Townhomes.
This private park in Fourth Ward belongs to the homeowners of the 10th Street Townhomes.

(4) Hackberry Court Townhomes

530 N. Poplar St.

What to look for:

  • These two private courtyards belong to the homeowners of their surrounding townhomes.

  • Bonus: On this tour, a handful of homeowners will allow you to pop in to “peek” at their private courtyards, as well.

Famous for:

  • Claire Danes’ Homeland” character, Carrie Mathison, lived in the 510 unit of Hackberry Court. Exterior scenes featured Hackberry’s Poplar Street facades.

  • Maahra Hill’s “Delilah” character, Delilah, lives with her children in the 520 unit of Hackberry Court.

Drink samples: Copper Barrel Distillery, Doc Porter’s Distillery, Mayberry Spirit Co.

You’ll know this courtyard already if you watched Carrie Mathison or Delilah arrive at their homes in “Homeland” and “Delilah.” Look for their townhomes when you visit Hackberry Court.
You’ll know this courtyard already if you watched Carrie Mathison or Delilah arrive at their homes in “Homeland” and “Delilah.” Look for their townhomes when you visit Hackberry Court.

(5) Tornow-Berry Garden

314 W. 8th St.

What to look for:

  • We’re here for the gardens, but don’t miss a glimpse at the house on your walk to the backyard: it was built in 1820 and is one of the five oldest homes in Charlotte.

  • The front porch, complete with a swing overlooking the front garden.

  • The backyard garden, themed Japanese garden meets Southern charm

  • The Japanese maple next to the fire pit, the gazebo with a dining table for summer dinner parties.

Drink samples: Petty Thieves Brewing

The gardens at this home on West 8th Street belong to one of the five oldest homes in Charlotte.
The gardens at this home on West 8th Street belong to one of the five oldest homes in Charlotte.

(6) Fourth Ward Park

8th and Poplar streets

What to look for:

  • The 3-acre park with two fountains and a playground is definitely the centerpiece of Fourth Ward’s charm. You may have been here before, but it’s worth a stroll before or after you tour the private residences.

  • Birdhouses designed by McColl Artist in Residence Joan Bankemper.

  • The Whisper Bench designed by Jim Gallucci. Sit with a friend at each end of the bench and whisper into the tube.

  • Flowering apricot trees, Serviceberry trees, Cunningham trees, Buttercup bush, Edgeworthia bush, Red Dragon weeping Japanese maple, Alleghany Spring dogwood.

(7) Elmwood/Pinewood Cemetery

700 W. 6th St.

What to look for:

  • The 70-acre historic cemetery is designed to function as a park, with rolling green space and large trees.

  • Optional docent-led tours at 3 p.m. each day.

The Secret Gardens of Fourth Ward

When: May 22-23, noon-4 p.m.

Where: Historic Fourth Ward in uptown Charlotte. Check in at 9th and Poplar streets

Admission: $30-$40. For tickets and info, visit www.fourthwardclt.org.

A limited amount of complimentary electric-powered Charlotte Joy Rides will be available.

While exploring the gardens, enjoy complimentary food and beverage tastings at gardens and restaurants along the way, courtesy of:

More photos in the gallery below.

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